[a continuation from the peace of Christ]
It used to be the case (and this was a statistical reality) that if you were from a Judeo-Christian background, your experience of stress would be significantly less than all other groups. The reason stated for this was that in your worldview, even if you were only a nominal Christian, you had an awareness of the sovereignty of God. Sadly today, for many Christians at least, I suspect this may no longer be the case. Our trust in and Biblical understanding of God’s sovereignty has been diminished and this has had serious implications for faith and life. As a result many Christians today are given to worry. We have made worry a respectable sin. Worry, to not trust in God’s sovereignty, is a sin. We miss the mark, we take our eyes off of Him, or view Him as less than we should, we struggle to see the truth in Jesus words (Matt 6:25-34). Closely linked to God’s sovereignty is His providence. Question 27 of the Heidelberg Catechism reminds of this:
- What do you understand by the providence of God?
- God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
One of the issues that can cause our modern day worry is how we view trials. Instead of recognizing that all things come to us “by his fatherly hand” and that James 1:2 tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (because such trials deepen our relationship with God and fashion our Christ like character so we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”) we throw up our hands in despair and cry “where is our God?” Now I am not suggesting I have never asked God why, but aim to encourage us all towards a maturing faith that has a high view of providence. John Newton (the author of Amazing Grace) wisely said these words:
“[One of the marks of Christian maturity which a believers should seek is] an acquiescence in the Lord’s will founded in a persuasion of his wisdom, holiness, sovereignty, and goodness….So far as we attain to this, we are secure from disappointment. Our own limited views, and short sighted purposes and desires, may be, and will be, often over-ruled; but then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord may be done, must be accomplished. How highly does it becomes us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker! And how necessary is it to our peace! This great attainment is too often un-thought of, and over-looked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to his purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good. From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repining’s, which are not only sinful, but tormenting; whereas, if all things are in his hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient; – then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue…How happy are they who can resign all to him, see his hands in every dispensation, and believe that he chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves!”
Consider Jesus’ words as He approached the cross in Mk 13:36. Jesus did not shrink from asking His Father what He humanly may have desired as advantageous (the removal of the pain of bearing God’s wrath because of our sin, the passion and the cross) but conceded that that which came from the Father’s hand was best and said “but not my will but yours be done.” I desire the sweetest blessings for all people, but in this world of sin it would be naïve to think trials will not come nor that God is not using them for His eternal purposes. Jesus never said following Him would be easy—far from it— but He did say “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9).
We do indeed live in a world raging in sinful chaos. Where we place our trust will determine whether we stand by faith in Christ or fall in our pride and ignorance (Mt 7:14-27). But instead of committing the respectable sin of worry may we resolutely affirm with the psalmist:
In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Ps 4:8 ESV)
And with Isaiah:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock. (Isa 26:3-4 ESV)
O, on Christ the solid rock I stand, on which, though the waters rage, Christ will keep me immovable.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
 Newton, John. Letters of John Newton. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), 137.